Phuong Huynh, Survivor

My name is Phuong Huynh; I was a 43-year-old working mom, as a research scientist, who thought, “I am very blessed and happy”.  My sister recently commented to me, “Your life is pretty posh”. And I remember thinking… she is right!  I have a happy marriage of 21 years and two wonderful daughters, 18 and 13. I am a lucky lady! 

That was before September 15, 2017.  On that day, my world turned upside down and inside out.  I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.  My husband held me and we cried.  LUNG CANCER!!!???  How could this be?? I have never smoked a single cigarette.  I live a healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise.  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this disease?  I was first angry, then sad, and lastly devastated.  For two weeks, I couldn’t sleep or eat.  I was weak and tired.  I felt like my body was wasting away by the day as I waited for my first appointment with the oncologist.  I had pain radiating from my head to my arms and fingers.  My mind wanted to trace every pain, every irregular breath and heartbeat back to this cancer that I now know is growing inside of me.  These were the thoughts constantly running through my head as I underwent five sessions of radiation for my brain, followed with targeted chemotherapy for the EGFR mutation. 

To start healing, I need to mend my mental health.  I seek counselling to learn to manage mentally day to day.  I learned how to accept and live with the disease.  Yes, I will die one day, that day could be months or years (I pray it is many, many, many years) from now.  That day will come if I cry or smile all the way there.  I chose to smile, to ease the pain for myself and my love ones.  I slowly ease back to a new normal.  I established a new regular exercise routine, change my diet to be mostly plant basde and discover my new faith.  I remind myself of this quote by Maya Angelou that I saw at the YMCA every day, “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude”.  I seek for survivors in my community.  In my search for other survivors, I found the Lung Cancer Initiative.  Thanks to the Lung Cancer Initiative, I connected with other survivors who are so supportive and give me great hope in this journey.  I also became more involved with activities and events that educate and help survivors living with this scary disease.  This journey would be so much more difficult without our community support.  I joined the LUNGe Forward 5K because I want to participate and contribute to help spread lung cancer awareness and advocate for LCI.

With GOD’s blessing and my medical team, I am stable as of my last scan.  I pray and thank you GOD for each day.  I am going to stay positive and believe my body can heal. 

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